MHz Choice has upped the ante this fall with a powerhouse slate of programming aimed at delighting TV connoisseurs with the best series the world has to offer. Leading the way this September is Paris Police 1900 (Studio Canal), an eight-part historical French crime drama set in Paris at the turn of the 20th century during the tumultuous time of the Dreyfus Affair. The growing antisemitism in France in this period is woven into the backdrop of a police investigation into the murder of an unknown woman found in a suitcase floating in the Seine. The young and ambitious Inspector Antoine Jouin (Jérémie Lahuerta) ends up investigating more than a murder as he uncovers state secrets and corruption. Jouin’s dramatic pursuit of justice is peppered with depictions of real events and historical figures set against the opulence of La Belle Epoque.
Fast forwarding in time from the early 1900s to the 1970s and ’80s, MHz Choice premieres a pair of retro French comedies replete with floppy hair, aviator sunglasses and computers that come in sizes big and bigger. Debuting this September, UFOs (Studio Canal) is set in 1978 and starts with a literal bang as space engineer Didier Mathure (Melvil Poupaud) watches helplessly as his expensive government funded rocket explodes on takeoff. The launch debacle pushes Didier’s career to the edge of a cliff, but he is given one last chance to make his way back into the good graces of the national space program as the head of an eccentric research group tasked with finding scientific explanations for all UFO sightings! Didier’s disdain for his new role only sharpens his scientific approach, and the facts lead him and the show into the realm of an unexpected government conspiracy thriller with quirky characters and even quirkier comic edges.
Later this fall (November) is Cheeky Business (Mediawan), set in the Parisian suburbs in the early 1980s, is a fictional tale of the invention of the first adult messaging service using the Minitel – a videotext online service accessible through telephone lines in France. In the space of ten half-hour episodes, three unlikely friends and college students stumble upon the idea to pose as women who exchange erotic messages with men over the Minitel network for a fee. Simon (Arthur Mazet) is the quintessential nerd who manages to tap into the potential of a nationwide messaging network, Stéphanie (Noémie Schmidt) is a budding entrepreneur in desperate need of tuition cash and Toni (Paul Scarfoglio) is bold enough to get the whole thing started. Pimps and prostitutes also get involved as the business goes national, right under the noses of Simon’s seemingly traditional parents – whose attic becomes the business’ unofficial headquarters for a while. Friendship, rivalry, sex, and false appearances are the early hallmarks of what becomes the internet age, and all hilariously collide in this funny and addictive series.
Rounding out September are two new dramas from Italy and Wales. Based on the novels by Massimo Carlotto, The Alligator (Rai Com) is a modern Italian Noir that begins with Marco Buratti (Matteo Martani) being released from prison after seven years for crimes he didn’t commit. A former blues singer, Marco’s time in prison gave him a newfound passion for justice. Now on the outside, Marco embarks on a career as a private eye, using his hard-earned skills and underworld connections to good advantage.
New from Wales, Fflam (Videoplugger) stars Gwyneth Keyworth (Hidden, Black Mirror, The Crown, Game of Thrones) as Noni, a young woman with a tragic past who is preparing to move into her dream home with her loving partner. A chance encounter with a man she believes to be Tim, her late husband who was killed in a fire, risks destroying the new life she’s worked so hard to build. As a central figure, Noni is not a quintessential victim of her past or a passive bystander to the events around her. Gwyneth Keyworth describes her complexity as a reason she enjoyed playing Noni. “Yes, she is brave, stubborn and does what she wants, but people still take advantage. She’s not completely innocent either.” The central mystery of Noni’s sighting plays out over six half-hour episodes.MORE THIS FALL:
Moving well beyond the pre-internet era to the present day are two new series which explore modern friendship and connection. Premiering this October and the first series from Japan to appear on MHz Choice, Pension Metsä (Videoplugger) takes place in and around a one-room guest house nestled in the Nagano larch forest. The guest house is owned by Tenko (Satomi Kobayashi), who finds herself in deep conversations with her visitors who are often lost or at a key turning point in their lives. It may seem like the guests are the ones learning new things about themselves, but in the end it’s Tenko who finds a fresh direction in life. Each 30-minute episode features a single guest star, including an appearance in Episode 6 by actress Tôko Miura, who played the young chauffeur Misaki in the Oscar-winning feature Drive My Car.
The fast-paced comedy series Ordinary People (REinvent Studios) hails from Iceland and centers around the friendship of Vala (Vala Kristin Eiriksdottir) and Júlíana (Júlíana Sara Gunnarsdóttir). Best friends since drama school, Vala and Júlíana have taken different paths in life with Vala in unsuccessful pursuit of an acting career while Júlíana has stepped away from acting to have two children with her husband Tómas (Halldór Halldórsson). Decidedly in the “Me Too” era, Vala has a disastrous encounter with studio bros who are looking to paper over their past reputations with a female-lead production. They end up inviting both Vala and her “funny friend” Júlíana to host their own TV show. Rather than co-hosting a talk show, Vala ends up relegated to a sidekick character. Everything is tested – friendship, marriage, motherhood, ambition – as success is unevenly distributed between the two friends.
Full Fall Schedule available here: